Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

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The Divine Ms Ross
Last night, this Pacific Woman in Philly (PWIP), attended the Diana Ross concert at the Mann Center for Performing Arts in Philadelphia. The songs she sang brought back memorable moments spent in the Fiji islands with best friends, Joyce Taito Vunisa, Melania Elo Saubulinayau and Rusila Kearney. Especially, when Ms Ross came out in her bright yellow outfit to sing the theme song from the movie, Mahogany, “Do You Know Where You Are Going To.”

While swaying and singing along with Ms Ross, my mind wandered back to my twenties, “Lordy, who “wudda” thought” that I would be raising my hands and singing this song, live, along with Ms Ross. To my dearest friends, “Did we know through the years and the ups and downs………”

I can look back and truly say “vinaka vakalevu” and forever grateful to Ms Ross for all the songs and for jogging my “noggins” to reminisce about the wonderful memories.  As the song says, ….. “now looking back”,  I know we did NOT let dreams slip by.

With that walk down memory lane over with, I’ll get to the good, the bad and ugly of the concert.

The Good

Thank you to my PWIP friend, Lusiana Loanakadavu Browning, for being my date to the Mann. It’s also good to have a friend (Lusi) with a temporary “handicapped” tag because you get to park your car right at the entrance of the concert venue. Our ticket purchased through Groupon for $30 a piece, was so worth it. I liked seeing the diversity in the concert goers, ranging from the cane and wheelchair crowd,  same sex couples, the young and the old including the dressed down and the overly dressed. At 71, Ms Ross still has the voice and the fashion style to excite the senses of the crowd and this PWIP.

The Bad

Ms Ross sang for only an hour and I know people paid up to  and over $100 to see her perform. She must have changed her outfit at least five times during the concert. I think she could have used those times to sing more songs. Most of the concert goers, like myself, aren’t there for the clothes, but for the voice. Besides that, the majority of the women and “over the hill” fans aren’t going to buy the outfits, but we’ll definitely go out and buy the music for the memories that the songs invoke. I was hoping for more of her songs from the eighties.

The Ugly

There was a lot of rumbling after the concert. Most of the attendees including the PWIPs didn’t realize she was only performing for an hour. Ladies sitting around us were stunned when the concert ended. They didn’t want to leave their seats, thinking it was intermission. The other ugly part (like every event) is the “getting out of the parking lot” ritual. There were motorists driving every which way and unhappy concert goers did not help the driving situation.

All in all, this Pacific Woman in Philly was thrilled, delighted and ecstatic to have attended a live concert by the divine Ms Diana Ross. I used to dream, but to be able to see it in person is truly an experience. Thank you Lusi for going to the concert with me.

As the song says, “I like the things that life has shown me” and I “kinda” know where I’m going. This Pacific Woman in Philly is hoping you aren’t letting your dreams go by you.

 

KAVA IS NOT SEXY

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Fijian Kava Ceremony. Kava is being mixed in the tanoa (large wooden bowl). The long stick in the background is a bamboo pole containing water that is being used to mix the kava or yaqona.
Pacific woman in Philly (PWIP) recently read a story on-line about a Kava Bar that just opened in New York City called Kavasutra. Isn’t “sutra” a word that can mean something sexual in Hindu? So kava has become a sexual drink? Take it from me, there’s nothing remotely “sutra” or sexy about the national drink of the Pacific islanders.

Kava or yaqona is one of the most important drinks in the Pacific. What the formal tea ceremony is to the Japanese, the ceremony of drinking kava is to the people of Pacific.  In the Fiji Islands, it is enjoyed on both important and social occasions. It is offered to welcome guests and reunites community, families, friends, and even enemies together to socialize, discuss important events and mostly just to relax and “talanoa” (tell stories) at the end of the day.

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Dried roots of the kava plant.
Kava is crushed from the root or the stalk of a plant from the pepper family. The root or stalk is cut, dried and pounded to a fine powder. The powder is then placed in a cloth and mixed with water in a large wooden bowl called a tanoa. The liquid that is extracted is kava or yaqona.

After the kava is mixed, words of welcome often emphasizing the connections of the people at the gathering are said by a prominent or senior member of the household. There’s a rhythmic clapping (usually done 3 times and often a specific beat), not just two hands slapped together kinda clapping, but more of a cupping of both hands making the sounds a little deeper. After all the clapping, grog is then served in small coconut bowls for each person.

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Late Pope John Paul having his  first bowl of kava.
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Queen Elizabeth enjoying her kava bowl.

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Prince Charles downing his bowl of kava. Drink it all.
One person sits by the tanoa (kava bowl) to pour the drinks into the coconut shells, another person sits next to the tanoa (usually a child – I remember doing this job as a young girl) to carry the coconut shells, filled with grog, to the guests. The guests sit and form a large circle around the large tanoa. The kava is served in rounds. The most important guest or chief gets the first cup and then the rest of the adults are offered their drinks.

Kava drinking is a process that can take hours. It often depends on the number of “basins”, code word for tanoa that each group is willing to withstand. After the first tanoa, there may be 6 or more basins to go around. On weekends, people can drink from late evening to early morning. Don’t even bring the guitar out, that can only mean noon time grogging (slang for kava drinking) and singing. Just kidding.

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This Pacific woman in Philly (PWIP) loves to enjoy a kava session once in awhile and encourages safe and responsible drinking of our famous but not sexy drink.

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CONCERT AT THE PARK

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Folk-rocker Jeffrey Gaines performing at the neighborhood concert.

 

This Pacific woman in Philly was excited when folk-rocker and guitarist, Jeffrey Gaines came to perform in our neighborhood. It was the first time our park was having a live concert like this one. The evening was perfect for gathering with friends, having a picnic and listening to a famous singer/songwriter. The rocker performed non-stop for two hours with just a guitar for accompaniment and his distinct voice to entertain the crowd.

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Pacific Women in Philly Lusi and Monika posing with the rocker.

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Gaines voice is similar to folk rock artist, Peter Gabriel. One of the songs that propelled Gaines to stardom in 1998 was Gabriel’s song, In Your Eyes. Listening to Gaines play and sing this song, one could almost hear the similarity of his voice to Peter Gabriel. Besides singing, In Your Eyes, Gaines sang many other songs during the evening concert  and especially my favorite, Hero In Me. If you want to hear more of  Gaines songs, you can go to YouTube, Spotify, Pandora or Apple Music, just to name a few of the online sites where his music is available.

I hope our neighborhood continues this concert series next year. It brings the neighbors together and makes the community more diverse culturally.

This Pacific woman in Philly is hoping your neighborhood is doing something exciting also to broaden your cultural life.